This series was expected to be closer. The Warriors had looked mediocre at the end of the regular season, finishing up 7-10. The final game of the season was a brutal 40-point capitulation to the Jazz, despite Thompson, Durant and Draymond Green all getting significant playing time.
The Warriors’ poor regular season run coincided with the absence of Stephen Curry, who is out with a knee injury. Curry won’t return for the Spurs series and perhaps not for several more weeks. That led plenty of prognosticators to predict that the Golden State dynasty was over.
But the team has been as impressive as any in the playoffs so far. Of the five teams still unbeaten, the Warriors comfortably have the largest point differential, at 16 per game. The team is third in offensive rating, at 119 points per 100 possessions, and fourth in defense at 102.
Curry’s 26 points and 6 assists per game in the regular season is a big total to replace, but the Warriors have done it, with Thompson in particular taking up the scoring load at 26 points per game after a regular season at 20. Andre Iguodala is 6-for-12 from 3 points after a season in which he shot a career low 28 percent.
Barring a miraculous comeback, the Warriors will next play the Pelicans, who are also out to a 3-0 series lead, over the Trail Blazers, and playing extraordinarily well behind Anthony Davis. They too have done it without an injured star, DeMarcus Cousins. The Rockets could face the winner.
So don’t award the title to the Warriors just yet. Still, it’s clear that even without Curry, we’re seeing the all-conquering Golden State of the last few seasons, not the uninspired team that played out the regular season string.